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Cathay Pacific Pilot Interview Profiles

Date Interviewed: September 2001
Summary of Qualifications: NA
Were you offered the job? Don't Know
Pilot Interview Profile:

General info: Pprune and hkalpa (their union) have info on living & working in HK, but you can also get hired as a freighter FO for 3 years (possibly 2 soon), and then go to the passenger fleet. Current retirement is 55, but probably going to 60+ after they get rid of more A-scalers (split A/B in '93). The big attraction to HK is you get lots of housing $$ ($60,000 US) in addition to your salary, so you buy a house/apartment (currently about 4 x as expensive as US to rent, 8 x to buy) and get several million in equity for free after a full career. Cars/gas are more expensive, everything else is cheaper than in the states. But to get to HK you need to go freighters for 3 years first, or get hired on as a Second Officer (long haul autopilot babysitter) for 3-5 years (in HK) first. You can also fight to get back to the states later, or wait in your US base for seniority to allowyou to cross over to Pax. Bases in US (Anchorage, LA, Chicago, NY). Also Vancouver, Toronto, but get less money. Starting salary is 61K/year + 15% (your retirement plan). Most people take it up front and then invest it themselves due to company's power to take the whole thing away from you for disciplinary action (also vested 10% per first 10 years). So plan on about 70K starting as freighter FO, increasing about 10% per year, then increasing about 35% when you go Pax FO. Plan on Capt at about 7 years with an additional 50% pay raise. Living in HK and making this plus equity is very competitive ( or better ), while basing in LA is a little less, but not by much.

The company is in the midst of industrial action, with the printed IFALPA ban date of 13 Jul 01. However, the official scab date discussed by the union is 3 Oct 01. In any event, if considering an interview or joining I would call up the union (numbers on their web site) and get clarification. Who knows if the ban will ever take effect but I would call to clarify, esp regarding the oct date. Unions have a lot less power in HK, e.g., they can only strike off-duty or the company can fire them at will for not following orders. If CX wants to fire you, it seems they can for an internal cause whenever desired. Lots different than US carriers... However, the planes are the newest in the industry (5 yrs average), and all wide-bodies (330/340/744). The training is probably the best in the world (1 month ground, 1 month AQP sims, 30xflights on Pax before done). This also makes it more difficult, e.g., I have to take 6 HK CAD (FAA) tests plus 5 plane tests, plus multiple sim checks/flight checks. But they have a rep for being amongst the best pilots, and probably true. They also wipe out all US carriers on service, sue to things like being able to release all flight attendents over 40, etc., but some of this is coming under court cases currently. They have been a 5 star airline for awhile (e.g., none are in the US, long hauls, high age, less service...). Bottom line is to check all this stuff out and make a decision. You can always switch back to the US later. You do get to work with nice, interesting people from all over the world. CX also pays for the ticket to HK for you interview, your hotel room, plus daily allowance while there (vacation or best interview prep around). Same thing in training, I'm currently getting about $1600 per month, plus room, for an allowance. You get roughly the same plan on the road (only at stops), fairly equivalent to other airlines, I think.

Additional interview stuff:

First, they have a new/additional process now where they give one combined interview/tests/sim/briefs/medical in HK (w/o your spouse) for non-HK based freighter FO's. Bottom line is it's pretty much the same, just all combined into one trip. You pay your own way to the CX port, they pay the rest. Generally they want your resume and then send you an application, then offer you the interview. However, for me they offered the interview based on my resume alone, and had me send them the app as a followup. Think they were attracted to lots of PIC jet time (e.g. fighters). Lots of the other applicants, especially for SO, seemed to have lots of jet hours, but mainly in the right seat. Hard to tell as all real info is very close-holed. You fly to HK, go downstairs on left side of airport and board a CX crew bus to their training center/hotel [Headland] at the airport. CX has most of the flights and seems to own most of the services at the airport. You check in at the hotel, get your allowance (subsistence) and get your schedule. You bring lots of stuff for your license, as the US ATP is not recognized. The CAD seems to like pretty full-up log books and wern't real impressed with my military computer printouts. I also had lots of trouble proving I had an instrument rating, since the US ATP doesn't state it anywhere, so you might want a letter from the FAA, plus that part of your logbook copied to prove it (e.g. from your ATP check). The CAD doesn't want to read US FAA regs, they could care less as they have their own regs (need paper that says instrument rating for you...). Military checks are not recognized. I turned in my resume and was asked to interview about 3 weeks later (after wondering why they never sent an app). My interview date was about 1 month after sending in my resume, & I was hired about 1 week later with a start class date 2 weeks after that (e.g., fast). I basically had a suit on the whole time I was doing anything in the interview process, and so did everyone else. CX is also expanding in US so looking for US or green-card holders only for US bases, making you attractive.

One-shot interview schedule (typical): Flew out Fri, arrived Sat in HK, Sun off. DAY1/830-1000/welcome brief, turn in all requested stuff,mainly for CAD. - immediately take tech test (about 25 questions in 30 minutes, mostly right out of the prep book recommended below, although reading the Big Jets book recommended below would get you near 100%). A couple not covered: effect of constant mach held during temp decr in TAS & pitot tube failure effects with changing conditions. DAY1/1000-1100/sim brief, background info on sim interview flight. - mainly want to see pilotage skills, need to know stuff in handout on speed bugs for T/O & Ldg, rest is right out of sim profile in book, but in a 747-200, so don't spend the big bucks for a 744 sim. Beg assistance from an airline buddy and you might get it for free. Basic profile was practice using the thrust reversers, once over on guages, then takeoff making calls from profile (set TO power, gear, multiple flap calls, set climb power, etc.), climb to 2500' @280K, go to 10 miles, hang a 60 right, then they freeze the sim and have you do 45/60 steep turns, get your reaction to the stick shaker/recover @ level, etc. Then off freeze, vectored for ILS to 200 with WX at 100 (MA), go around to engine fire on #1 on down-wind, react with CRM/execute the checklist stuff, then SE ILS full-stop with WX at 500. Watch putting in lots of rudder when the instructor takes out all of your rudder trim (company policy is 1000). My sim was next day, although some applicants had it later the first day. DAY1/own time/get EKG, chest xray, blood test, piss test, hearing test DAY1/1530-1630/Personnel brief on CX policies, Psych test (187 questions in 30 minutes). I didn't prep, but sounds like the same kind of test used by others, think they are looking for the outgoing, mellow individual in the anxiety/extrovert CRM plotting chart and trying to filter serial killers... DAY1/1630-1730/Base brief, covered some info on basings policy DAY1/1730-1900/Cocktail party with important CX hiring dudes

DAY2/830-1000/Sim assessment, guys were real nice, definitely looking for improvements/correcting back, and trainability. Don't expect [admit] any 747 sim time, they expect you to not have it. DAY2/1000-1130/Medical assessment, rest of stuff not finished from prior day on your own, plus doctor's meeting. Think everyone has a lot more input into final say then you might suspect, so be nice to all (standard)k, except drinking seems to be more accepted (brit view...). Desire you to be on the old insurance weights. DAY2/1200-1300/Final interview, 1 personnel guy with several pilots - asked questions, wanted to get to know you, more details below. DAY2/1500-1630/Freighter Ops Mgr briefing, overview of freighter ops - from US, mainly flowing to ANC, then on to HK. Don't go past HKI due to being out of your time zone, requiring too many days rest, so fly back. Schedule is better if at ANC as others position there a lot to fly, losing a few more days. Sounded like about 12 days/month at ANC, more elsewhere. Advertised as 17 days per month, but also get 42 days leave, reducing it to about 13-14 estimated. DAY2/later/low key exit to HK for evening

Some people flew out the evening of Day2, others left the next day.

Interview questions: - Varied between different interviews... *They brought in models of 330 and 744 and asked what planes, what model (-100/200/300/400) and how you could tell the differnce (look at cathay's web site for fleet info) *Summarize your career in 5 minutes *Why Cathay (history, current knowledge, web searches, prep books) *What would your wife [mom] say is your biggest weakness/why *What is your current job/responsibilities/flying *How will you adjust to the pace of airlines *technical questions, mostly covered in Davies' book *effect of moving cg aft on stall, fuel usage ("") *type of brakes, why good (carbon, see prep book) *How/where do tropical storms form, what are they, can they form at the equator (temp diff, coriolis effect, ect.) *Tell us all about CX engines (see prep book) *Why winglets (prep book, Davies, etc.) *What is dutch roll, explain, why doesn't it continue into spin (relative wind shift, etc) *Tell us all about the wings, shapes, why, plus/minus (slow/fast) *Yaw dampers, what kind, series or parallel *Thrust reverser & wind effects (too much X can stall inside engines, etc) *What attributes do you have to highlight you, why hire you (closing question) *Any questions for us

Other questions from others (see stuff below also, some also there): *Balanced field length *Mach crit/tuck *vortex generators *pitot failure indications *Climb gradient calculations *spoilers *GPWS/7 modes *Thrust reversers *Cat 1/2/3 limits (ICAO), Qual/recur reqmnts *ETOPS *T/O segments (prep book) *Vmca & Vmcg &V123r stuff *think about your sim coord brief (CRM, double check all steps, etc)

"how to prepare for your cathay interview" is available through Aviation World near Toronto airport (do a web search then order by phone).

"flying the big jets" [or something similar to that] by Davies (not another author) is available searching through Barnes & Noble online, using old book selection. Then call up a book store somewhere, or get it from the library.

Other sites with info: http://pprune.org http://cathaypacific.com http://bbs.hkalpa.org

Date Interviewed: December 2000
Summary of Qualifications: NA
Were you offered the job? Don't Know
Pilot Interview Profile:

The interview process started with submiting a resume. Since my resume did not apperently gave them a full picture they sent me e-mail to verify some information. I responded the back and couple days later Grace from CX called me and offered interview in LAX. The first interview was not any different that I have read in previouse discriptions. Technical quiestioner 30 questions, followed up with oral interview. The questionier included questions why should CX hire your, your moral and proffesional abilities which will make you attractive for CX.

The interviewers was done by CX representative Katy and Barry, apperetly man and wife. Katy is assistance recruitment manager direct entry FO. Katy asked HD questions and Barry technical ones. Pretty much the same staff I read before.


Your previous life and flight experience.

Will you have any problem to live in Communist China

Why Cathay

Tell us about yourself


What do you know about 747-400

What kind of engines, why, what is designed differently in this engines (3 axes)

Some aerodynamc questions

Critical engine failure on 747 and how it will effect plane

Last question is Do you have any questions

Also I had feeling that everything was done at the great hurry. I even did not left I saw another applicant was already questioned.

Two or three weeks later Grace called me again and told me that I selected for second interview. She also told me how I can get to HK. I flown from JFK to Vancouver and than 15 hours not stop to CX. Quite an experience. Esspecially siting in the economy class with a seats design for much smaller chines.

The interview was the same as it was described before. Sim ride and oral. Despite the warning not to warried about competition I bet everybody felt that we are competing against each other. It was 8 candidates. Except 2 all have been born or came from outside of US. The end result I knew for sure only one canadien was offered job. He had previous 747 experience, babyseated during cruise.

Date Interviewed: May 2000
Summary of Qualifications: NA
Were you offered the job? Don't Know
Pilot Interview Profile:

Just a few corrections to the Cathay Pacific interview information. I presently work for CX as flight crew, and noticed that some of the figures were a little outdated. Please accept this information as an update. (and please don't publish my e-mail address! Thanks!)

Upgrade from S/O to F/O is now 2 1/2 years You are eligible for a basing after you become F/O (3 1/2 years Approx.)

Starting salary S/O 375,300HKD as of July 01, 2000 =48,181US =71,621CDN =81,814AUD =30,868GBP Discretionary bonus is almost ALWAYS paid. (partially paid in 99 due to Asia turndown) Provident Fund 15% With the housing allowance, I have friends in up to 1100 sq/f The "gift" is just that... a gift of 10,000HKD for moving, and not payable back. The child's education allowance is back. You stay at the crew hotel, now located at CLK, and all the interview items are done there. The rest of the information seemed to be pretty accurate. Thanks.

Date Interviewed: April 1999
Summary of Qualifications: NA
Were you offered the job? Don't Know
Pilot Interview Profile:

I lived in HK for several years in the glory days of CX (1975-1981), however, I interviewed with them in May of 98, so here is the debrief from the initial interview in Vancouver, followed by the final interview in HK, plus some additional info. (My experience at the time was 2000 TT, 1700 ME turbine, 300 PIC Jet, etc.) There have been a few changes since then, mainly in upgrade time which is now 4 years from SO to FO, and 7-9 years from SO to senior FO and then CPT. I was offered a position on the 747-400 but turned it down for a cargo 747-200F job (which went bankrupt), and now fly for a major US regional. Not to discourage you in any way, but CX is not a the best place for an American to go to. For one, you will not fly at all for at least 3 years. You will baby-sit the autopilot in cruise only. You will live in HK with basing options in the US 5-7 years later, if at all. Also, if they hire direct-entry FOs, which they will, they will start ahead of you, screwing up your time to upgrade. On the positive side, the CX pilots are some of the finest people around, mostly from the UK and AUS/NZ and some from CAN. Anyway, review the info below and feel free to inquire again if you still have questions. If you are interviewing in HK, I can suggest a few excellent places to visit, restaurants, etc....HK is quite an exotic city and must be seen while there.

Date Interviewed: April 1998
Summary of Qualifications: NA
Were you offered the job? Don't Know
Pilot Interview Profile:

First interview in Vancouver. The day I was there, there was 1 other US regional pilot. I happened to glance at the interview schedule and noticed that over 50% of the 20 or so invites canceled!

Interview consisted of a 30 minute psyche test (very simple) followed by a 30 minute technical test with 30 questions. Questions were the same in the "How to prepare for your Cathay Interview" book. I was then introduced to Mr. Paddy Cavanaugh and Capt. Paul Barton. Very nice individuals who made you feel relaxed.

Standard questions from Paddy:

1. Why CX 2. Tell us about your career to date 3. Where do you do your training 4. Lifestyle changes in HK on their salary 5. What do you do in your spare time 6. How would you adjust to living in HK 7. What aircraft do you fly 8. what are the duties of s/o 9. why do you want to go from Capt. to s/o 10. How much notice do you need for 2nd. interview 11. Who else have you applied to and why 12. If you were accepted by all that you applied to, which one and why CX 13. How do you see the future of CX

Questions from Paul:

1. What engines do we use and why 2. Advantages and specs to the RB211 3. Why are wings swept and how does it affect Mcrit 4. How do winglets work 5. critical engine on prop planes, how and why 6. critical engine on jet a/c (747) and how does crosswind affect it 7. why is aft cg better for cruise and how does it work 8. characteristics of swept-wings, i.e.. slats, etc. 9. what aircraft do we fly

Any questions for us?

That was it! Lasted only 20 minutes. Basically, the tech questions were mostly aerodynamic related, while the human resource questions were aiming at moving to HK. You will be in HK for at least 5-7 years before you can bid a foreign base. (They did not like the question I asked about basings!).

6/20/98: Second interview was almost too relaxed. They make it clear in the beginning that they want you to succeed. It starts with a 1 hour brief on the company and plans (140 s/os for 1998), job descriptions, a/c., etc. The rest of the day is open unless you have the sim and second 2 on 1 interview. The second day is your medical and then they have a casual cocktail party that late afternoon with a second conditions of service briefing. Once again, very relaxed and very nice people.

Stats were 4 US, 1 Canadian, 3 Australian. The Canadian was called last Wed. and offered a position on A340 starting Aug. 24. Us "yanks" have not been called yet. CX does not generally like the US pilots since we can log the time as SIC and come back to the US and work for the airlines here. There are only about 25 US pilots at CX. However, since I lived there for several years and had internal recommendations, I might get the call. The sim ride is quite entertaining. It takes some time to get used the size of the 747-400, so most people tend to over control it, but it appeared that everyone flew the sim the same way....not that great! And they don't expect you to fly it that well, just as long as you don't crash it or really screw up!

We all stayed at the 4 star Excelsior Hotel, which is owned by the famous Mandarin Oriental chain. Top notch facilities and a lot of flight crews. Its on HK island and close to all the sights. I am not sure whether future interviews will be at the facilities at CLK or the old airport. If at CLK you might be staying at their new employee hotel, which will have an express train from Central HK island over to CLK at 24 mins.

Since the HK$ is pegged to the US$, figure about 7.7 HK per 1 US. As for salary, starting SO salary was HK$333,640 or about US$43,050, slowly raising to $65,430 as a junior FO (4+ years to upgrade). Last I heard this has recently been reduced a little. I believe max pay these days is about US$150,000 for captain. (This is much lower than US carriers)

A discretionary bonus equiv. to one month's salary is sometimes paid after 1 year of service. Tax in HK is not more than 15% of gross. Benefits are a low 10% provident fund (IRA) and various other usual plans. Please note that CX pays for housing on top of your salary, but when you notice how much it is, it does not get much (about 600 sq. ft). CX will give you a HK$10,000 "gift" for relocation expenses and a HK$20,000 loan for 20 months at HK$1000 /month deducted from salary for other expenses. The gift is paid back after the first loan, so CX gets more $ on interest charges.

Travel benefits: 1st six months, travel is allowed to home base only as training and for the pilot only. After the first year, unlimited ID90/75 etc. for staff/family and 1 free positive space coach ticket per year.

3 month notice of resignation is required after training, while only 1 week notice when in training.

CX does not pay for any schooling for expats. International schools are very expensive in HK, but also very good.

For some additional salary info:

As I said before, in my opinion CX was the best airline in the world in the glory days. This is when the A scale was the only scale and the highest in the world with some pilots reporting up to $500,000 US a year. The most recent A scale salaries which the most senior pilots are paid, and CX is trying to get rid of it, are at each year (US$):

1. FO $110,621 4. FO $121,084 5. Senior FO $131,547 17. Senior FO $187,351 1. Captain $190,838 17. Captain $269,239

The A scale will probably not be around much longer, but they were the highest paid pilots in the world. HK does not recognize unions, so CX pilots don't have much authority. Currently, the figures I posted at the top for SO is the B scale, but I have heard that these have been reduced somewhat, and are now the C or D scale. You never know with CX! Also, if you get a basing in the US (not before 5-7 years) or somewhere else, the housing allowance is not paid. Bottom line, all new pilots must live in HK for at least 5-7 years. There is no commuting. Also, CX and most foreign airlines do not have jumpseat privileges.

If offered a position, you will go to the Australian Flying College in Adelaide for 4 weeks to convert your licenses, followed by a 1-2 weeks back home before going to HK for 6-8 weeks of training depending on a/c. You do not get typed on the a/c, but get rated (P2X Rating) on the Duchess. Most new hires are going into the A340 now. You will stay in the hotel during this time (either the Excelsior or the CX hotel at CLK). They will provide your hotel for 6 months and then start your housing allowance of 18k-21k HK$ / month. Unfortunately you cannot get much for that price (about 600+ sq. ft). During the first 6 months you get staff travel only back to your home country. After 6 months, you get unlimited staff travel (ID90/75 etc.). You will not be on the seniority list until after 18 months, and then upgrade to FO is around 3-4 years. The CX pilots on my flight into HK (I rode in the cockpit from Seoul to HK) bashed the company and told me not to believe anything they said! (I flew Delta to Seoul in business class). However, CX coach service is excellent with headrests, footrests, and video screens at every seat and unmatched in-flight service that US airlines should look into!

That's about it for the CX interviews. From a US pilot's point of view, it is better than the US regionals as far as pay, and the equipment is first class. The only downside is the living arrangements, constant salary decreases and cutbacks, upgrade times to a flying seat, and an untrusting management. If you ultimate goal is to work for a US major, than I would suggest staying here and continue what you are doing, or go the regional or corp. route. One other note, as a SO you will have a lot of free time to hang out in HK, since you will rack up your long haul hours in a few days. As far as living in HK, it is not like it used to be when lots of Americans and other expats lived there. It is incredibly expensive, crowded, and rainy. It is not fun for a single American to live there. On the other hand, it is a great jumping off point to visit that part of the world.

Another note: There is a company that CX has setup to run their cargo operations called ASL (Aircrew Services LTD). They hire pilots separately from CX, so CX pilots believe they are scabs and will treat them like that, since they go in as a FO, not a SO. Their pay scales are attractive, as pilots are based in their home country and average about 60 hours a month on the 747-400. US pilots can expect pay at $48k, $53,400, $69,000, $125,000 as FO in years 1,2,5,10, with captain pay about 45% higher. ASL mins. are at least 3000 TT for FO, while CX is around 1000 TT for SO.

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